How To Clean A Shag Rug

Shag rugs originally became popular in the 1960s and 1970s and have since made a resurgence. Also known as shaggy rugs, shag rugs have long-haired fibers that give the rug a fluffy appearance and texture. 

These carpet fibers are meant to look untamed and shaggy (hence the name), which often leads people to believe that shag rugs are hard to clean. This is because the longer fibers collect more dust, debris, hair, and dirt than normal rugs with short-hair fibers. 

If you have a shag rug that’s looking a bit worse for wear, you’re probably wondering how to clean it without ruining the glorious fluffy fibers. You also don’t want to waste money on professional rug cleaners when you can do it yourself. 

Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. Here is our guide on how to clean a shag rug! 

Cleaning A Shag Rug: A Step-By-Step Guide

For the best results, complete this cleaning guide once a week. 

You will need: 

  • Broom
  • Carpet rake
  • Vacuum cleaner (Including upholstery attachment)
  • Small bowl
  • Sponge mop
  • Microfiber towel / Soft-bristled brush / Toothbrush
  • Plastic tarp
  • Baking soda
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Carpet shampoo granules 

Step 1: Shake The Rug 

First and foremost, you want to try to get rid of as much dirt and dust as possible by simply shaking the rug. Make sure to do this outside to prevent the dust from settling in your home. 

It might help to beat the shag rug with a broom, tennis racket, or a rug beater to get the dust out of the depths of the long fibers. To do this, hang the rug over a clothesline to prevent accidentally hitting yourself. 

Step 2: Use The Vacuum

Using a vacuum to suck up dust and dirt from a shag rug can go one of two ways. If you use an upright vacuum cleaner and attempt to roll it over the shag rug, it will crumple up and be impossible to clean properly. 

The best way to clean a shaggy rug with a vacuum is to use the hose with an upholstery attachment on a low setting. This will allow you more control over sucking up the hairs without pulling them too roughly, which can damage the rug. 

You will need to be patient when using a vacuum. Slowly move the upholstery attachment in a grid-like motion on the rug and go over any particularly dirty spots. 

Then, make sure to turn the rug over and clean the underside with the same motion. Vacuum the floor underneath the rug while you’re at it. 

Step 3: Attack The Stains

Now’s the time to look for any stains. You’ll probably spot them when using the vacuum cleaner.

In most cases, you can treat a stain with a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Scrub the liquid into the stained area with a microfiber towel, soft-bristled brush, or a toothbrush in small circular motions. 

Make sure to rinse the area with clean water and dry with a paper towel. Allow to air dry or blow with a hairdryer before you lay the rug back on the floor.  

Step 4: Fluff The Shag Rug

Odds are your rug is going to look a bit disheveled at this point. Run your fingers through the shag rug to make it shaggy once again. Alternatively, invest in a carpet rake to brush those lovely long fibers and make the rug look as good as new. 

This will also help to keep your shaggy rug fluffy for longer and maintain the quality of the now clean shag rug.

Just be sure not to tug at the fibers, because you might accidentally pull them out!

How To Deep Clean A Shag Rug

If your shaggy rug is in need of a serious deep clean, here’s where it gets a bit more complicated. Lots of professional rug cleaners don’t recommend deep cleaning a shag rug without their help.

If you have an expensive or high-quality shag rug, it’s best to ask for professional help before attempting to clean it yourself. 

Here is how to deep clean a shag rug by yourself. 

Step 1: Clean As Usual

Clean your shag rug as usual by shaking it outside, vacuuming, and removing any stains. 

Step 2: Prepare The Floor 

Next, you need to prepare the floor underneath the shag rug before you deep clean it. We recommend laying a sheet of plastic tarp on the floor (especially on hardwood floors) to prevent moisture build-up underneath the rug. 

Step 3: Sprinkle Baking Soda 

Most shaggy rugs require a deep clean because they’re looking dull. To brighten your shag rug, sprinkle a moderate amount of baking soda all over the surface and leave it overnight (4 hours minimum). 

The next morning, shake the shag rug outside and vacuum it to get rid of the baking soda powder. If this has brightened the rug up, you won’t need to continue the other deep cleaning steps! Make sure to fluff up the rug again after vacuuming it.  

Step 4: Sprinkle With Carpet Shampoo Granules 

If the previous step didn’t do the job, it’s time to use a small amount of dry carpet shampoo granules. Make sure to read the instructions on the bottle so you know how much is good to use, and what materials it is suitable for.

Sprinkle a light layer of the granules over the rug and use a dry mop (or a soft-bristled brush) to ensure the granules evenly clean the fibers. 

Depending on the product’s instructions, you will probably have to leave the granules on the rug for an hour. 

Once the hour is over, shake the rug outside and vacuum it on both sides to ensure the shampoo granules have gone. If any granules stay on either side of the rug, it can cause permanent damage to both the rug and the floor. 

As usual, fluff up the rug with your fingers or a carpet rake to bring it back to its shaggy texture. 


Turns out, cleaning a shag rug isn’t as hard as you might think. All you need is patience and the commitment to clean the rug about once a week to keep it in top condition. If the rug is expensive, it might be worth contacting professional cleaners to do a deep cleaning.